Opinions: Column by Doug Wojcieszak, 03/29/94 Have you heard about that fellow who's gonna get flogged in Singapore? Some guy from Dayton, Ohio, who has been living in Singapore with his parents, decided to have a little fun by spraypainting a bunch of cars. The locals took exception to his freelance art. They put him on trial, convicted him, and now this 18-year-old will receive six lashes with a cane, as well as four months in jail. Check this out Caning goes back to British colonial days. Now, as then, the unfortunate soul is brought to a public place, tied to a table and stroked with a wet cane by a martial arts expert. Most people pass out after the second stroke. The procedure is halted until the prisoner regains consciousness, and then the fun resumes. U.S. diplomats have been trying to get the Singapore officials to ease up, but no soap. Two years ago Singapore went against the wishes of the Pope and the international community by preceding with the hanging of two Australian drug traffickers. I think it's safe to assume that the U.S. State Department won't get this little snot off the hook. There are a lot of bleeding hearts out there who say Singapore is too harsh. But when you look at Singapore's low crime rate, you have to wonder if they are on to something. Caning in the U.S.? Crime is on the minds of most Americans. We want to deter it, but mandatory sentencing and building more jails is hardly the answer. With cable television, weight rooms and gangs, prisons are not too bad a place for the criminal element. All they need is a mint on their pillows. But let's see how they would appreciate being whipped like dogs in a public place. Before people get all bent out of shape, I need to clarify by saying that I only advocate caning for serious crimes and only when deterrence and rehabilitation are achievable. I don't want to publicly whip every kid who robs a gumball machine, nor am I interested in hardened career criminals. I just want the young violent offenders--the punks who push drugs and mug little old ladies. I want them flailed on the courthouse steps. And then, after they recover from their spanking, I want them sent up the river, but no cable TV or pizzas. Their time behind bars should be spent learning a skill. It's time to send a strong message to would--be criminals: antisocial behavior will no longer be tolerated. I'm willing to bet crime would go down. And I'm also willing to bet that the bleeding hearts will still cry foul. The real problem Some of the folks who speak out against physical punishment do so because of the Constitution's protection against cruel and unusual punishment. There's nothing wrong with this; we have to be very careful when considering floggings and any other form of public punishment, lest we become criminals ourselves. But there are other people who oppose caning strictly because of today's feel-good, politically correct environment. These are the bleeding hearts. And they support an agenda that does not want to see people held accountable for their actions. These folks take a dim view of any physical discipline, including spankings and paddling in schools. And, unfortunately, they've had a great deal of success pushing their viewpoint. Doing an injustice Is there any truth to the old proverb, "Spare the rod and spoil the child?" Just ask a convict. Many a prisoner will confess that if somebody (the state or parents) had kicked their butt when they were young and just getting into trouble, they would be a different person. For proper development, young people need structure and stability. Most often this means positive reinforcement. But sometimes with certain people, you need to catch their attention, fast. And there's no better way than a good smack. The bleeding hearts equate this with abuse. What a lousy correlation. Abuse is rooted in anger and hate, whereas discipline administered by parents (and the state) is a product of love, tough love. There's a fine line between the two, but somehow we've forgotten that, and the consequences are obvious. How obvious? Just ask a veteran school teacher or a police officer. Kids today are much more likely to backtalk, smart off and do bold and stupid things because they know they won't be touched. Some things have got to change. Cracking down Parents and school teachers should be able to properly discipline young people without the fear of being hauled into court. And if they won't discipline, then the state should have the ability to give someone a good whack. And we need not feel any remorse about lowering the boom. Because which is crueler: smacking someone on the wrist, or letting them screw up their life? Conclusion By using all proper forms of discipline (spankings included), most antisocial behavior can be arrested in the home. If, however, the home environment fails a young person, then the state owes it to that individual (and to society) to correct the situation, painful as it might be.
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